Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cruise #9: Rachel!

My favorite cruise of the gig, because I had a very special guest:


Second City has what they call their "Conjugal Visit Program", which basically means that they'll fly out one guest on their dime, and they get to take the cruise for free. This is the only way my girlfriend and I could possibly afford to go one a cruise like this, so it was, as the poet says, awesomenacious.

She flew out on a red-eye from LA, and was immediately introduced to the life of a Lonely Planet traveler. We met up in a Holiday Inn lobby that the cast frequents because they have free internet and will let you use the bathroom. I know, I know. Romantic. We managed to get on the ship with the first batch of passengers, and the adventure began.

This was also our first cruise where we were classified as crew. It's a complicated distinction, and proof that red-tape floats, but there are two different manifests that every cruise ship maintains. One for passengers and one for crew. For the last couple months, all the guest entertainers had been classified as passengers, but they've got all that worked out, so we're crew again. This is great, because it means we can hang out after-hours with all the other people we work with on the ship. Hooray crew bar!

Let's take this one port by port.

Samana, Dominican Republic:

Samana is interesting because it's a port that's just starting to develop. I'd only been off there once, because we have to tender in, and it's a show day, so I have an early tech call. That time, we went to a private island, Cayo Levantado, which was a whole lot of fun. The problem is, a lot of people expect all our ports to be super-developed, super-touristy, and Samana is decidedly not that. If you're someone who dreams of heading for the nearest Senor Frogs(a Spanish term that roughly translates to "Mr. Ranas"), go to Cayo Levantado, not the town. Trust me on this one.

Rachel and I decided we'd just walk around and check out the town, then head back to the ship and hit the spa.

Rachel hugs all of Samana at once

Horus, the equine god who protects the Dominican Republic from pirates

Two Samana Presidentes -

The Beer

The guy who looks like Dennis Farina

Tortola, British Virgin Islands:

February 11th. My birthday. Rachel and I hit up my absolute favorite place on earth, Marina Cay. We had a great cab driver take us out to the Beef Island Ferry, and off we went.

Relaxing at the Beef Island Ferry, apparently on D-Day

The ferry ride was great, the weather was perfect, and it's probably my favorite birthday yet. There were only about 10 other people there, so it was a welcome escape from the million-tourist-march beaches you can often run into. No beach like this should be appreciated with a full complement of brain cells, so we eased into the birthday drinking painkillers from tin mugs.

Rachel, meet painkiller. Painkiller, meet Rachel.

Rach had never been snorkeling before, so we rented some gear and hit the water. It was gorgeous, and I decided I wanted to get a souvenir to remember this magical day. The one I picked was a sea urchin spine, which I tucked away safely in my heel.

The sea urchins are defending themselves somehow!


After the birthday day, we were both pretty tired, so we slept in today, then went and wandered around town for a bit. We had an improv show that night, so we headed back to the ship a tad early.

Wadadli cats are what house cats would look like if they were boats

I live one one of these. Try to guess which one. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised


Rachel had an excursion that she wanted to check out, which was a tour of the Malibu Rum Factory. I was definitely up for it, if only because I had a sneaking suspicion that there might be rum there.

We toured the entire production line, which was interesting, and it finished up with an entertaining video which showed how they used rocket ships to deliver their rum to all the alcoholic countries of the world. There was also a detailed lecture where we tasted samples and were educated in the intricate scientific processes used in the manufacture of Malibu's product. I learned from this that rum is tasty.

This is the second time I've seen Rachel in a hardhat

Nothing says paradise quite like industrial development

Afterwards, we went to Malibu beach, which, through a stunning coincidence, is located directly behind the rum factory.

When was the last time you tanned next to a silo? Huh?

Portrait of the Caribbean as an Awesome Sea

St. Lucia:

Our last port on the cruise. Also, Valentine's Day. We celebrated the way most couples do, with a whale-watch. We didn't wind up seeing any whales, but we ran into a whole school of dolphins, some of whom we saw leaping out of the water and flipping around in the air. Awesome. It also afforded us a great view of the Piton mountains on the southern end of the island. The Pitons are the national symbol of St. Lucia. Here are two views:

The Pitons -

The way God likes to see them

The way I like to see them

On the boat with us was a delightful woman named Allie, and I would like to take this moment to apologize for my entertainment recommendation. She knows which one.

After we got off the whale-watching boat, we decided we'd hop in a cab and go exploring. We wound up a Choc Bay, and fantastic little beach I'd never heard of that was only a few minute from the port. There was a great restaurant next to it, as well. We spent the afternoon swimming in the clear blue water, then heading up for a lunch of fish cakes and rotis, which are sort of the Caribbean version of a burrito, but with curried potatoes. Great to eat, terrible for the breath. Advantage, Compton.

It's no Jersey shore, but it'll do

Why this isn't a postcard, I'll never know

Mmmmm...the Wharf Restaurant

Remember kids, there's a little Los Angeles in every place on earth

There were too many other great things on the trip to count. It was a wonderful cruise, and my only problem was that it was over so soon. Good times. (dramatic, wistful pause) Good times.